A majestic fresh water lake situated in the heart of downtown Hanoi, also known as Turtle Lake or the Lake of the Returned Sword, this is very much a place to go to simply soak up the local atmosphere. It is beautiful both day and night, but early mornings are particularly great as it is so full of life, whether its wizened Vietnamese men doing tai chi and playing chess, or old women vendors preparing to hawk their wares for the day. The many ancient trees provide welcome shade if you end up in the staying through the peak of the afternoon heat.
Dotted with spectacular French colonial buildings, the lake is surrounded by a brick sidewalk that has no traffic and many nearby streets are closed off on the weekends to make up Hoan Kiem Lake walking street, an enchanting place to eat and shop.
At night hundreds of tiny lights illuminate the area, and pairs of young Vietnamese lovebirds can be seen sitting on traditional benches or taking in a romantic stroll under the moonlight.
If the sheer hustle and bustle of the adjacent Old Quarter gets a bit too hectic, this is it a pitch-perfect place to come and unwind or settle in one of the areas many quaint cafes for a coffee or leisurely snack.